It's not an humour post... well, yeah, it is.
At the beginning of this year I had in a personal relationship that was heading nowhere. She was thinking about one future, and I was thinking about getting my present upside down, and by the way, not in the same direction she was going... at all.
But that's not the point. We were "kinda" happy, but the relationship had started to fall apart a while ago. I was pulling the strings and carrying the weight the last months and that happened alongside my (on that time) current thoughts about becoming an entrepreneur while hanging up my physics degree. It wasn't the best situation for anybody.
But... saving you the personal details, the outcome was: We both on our way, with me turning into an unknown world.
So... first quarter of the year was all about making things happen, and at about May-June I got everything under control, or so I thought. But there are allways good news and bad news, and the next list is a product of that process.
10 things I learnt through my first year running an eCommerce:
1. WordPress is highly flexible:Wether you do it yourself or hire a proffesional firm to do it for you, you must choose what CMS you'd like your platform to be in. And I seriourly recommend WP for this purpose, specially if it's gonna be your first attempt. You'll be able to switch to another company, or to one, or to take over yourself whenever you want. And because of the great amout of material online to teach you (if you have the time), or to be chosen from (if you have the money), your webpage will be able to flow from one style or business model to the next level without serious and painful processes.
2. Credit card gateways are not for everyone:I chose Paypal because the simplicity over my software (WooCommerce), but there are many more possibilities out there. However, that may not be your case. I helped other people by charging them a fee for my services (really low fees... :( ), and some of them didn't like to have a gateway at the beginning. But all of them will need one, eventually. It will depend what system they need to work online, or maybe offline. The future, somehow, relies on the simplest gateway you can implement, so the visitors click less times in order to get things done.
A solution is an in site gateway payment. But these require a SSL certificate.
3. Web analytics is soooooooooooo fun, but impressively messy:Let's face it. It's not for everyone. I even love it. But to set up a semiautomatic way of dealing with it is highly techy. I started to learn about it during summer fall, and I'm still posponing it for a proper time (a day where I feel like doing it, which is feeding my procrastination 'illness').
I'm trying to make a personal inform printed online in PDF about some website statistics, periodically, in a way that looks like handwritten. Yeah, not getting there yet. But I'll keep trying to learn a good, efficient, and proffesional way to do it.
4. When you open a door, many windows open to distract your focus:Right now I'm wondering wether I should open a proffesional website for my side-work (making websites, handling them, web analysis, marketing, etc) before doing more work on my ... not so flying yet eCommerce (pets food and accesories type of).
And more and more ideas keep coming to my head every day. It's really hard to keep focus on one thing. Procrastination seems the only way to survive those momentary crisis. I'll need to improve my self control, though.
5. It starts soooooo Sloooooooooowwww...:So I was sitting at my desk, watching my monitor, at the beginning of last summer, waiting my customers to hit the numbers right the way. Well, ... not gonna happen.
My first sale came in September. I was so happy I even started to jump-celebrate like a fool (Tom Hanks as a modern Robinson Crusoe coming into mind. See? Hard to keep focus).
From that moment, I started to have more sales. Exactly 3 more during the next months, but speeding up between them. So it means it's growing. But... soooo slow.
That has an explanation.
When I started I did pay per click, using my marketing not so cool skills (not yet), in an unexperienced way. But I got help and I improved them (thanks David Z.). However, I decided I'd do them in a future, because I didn't really have a profit margin to do them, and I focused on fixing my ... 8000 product references SEO. Yep, 8000. I'm still getting over 1000 of those. I guess I'll finish them when I get to hire someone.
Don't worry, I'm doing the things as they're suppose to be done. It's just hard to compete in my niche, considering my competition prices and services.
Traffic is still growing every month. I have more and more products optimized and getting into first positions in Google, and I'll keep doing it. Slowly, but certain.
6. You may make and you will make mistakes:The feeling about not being efficient enough is like a haunting ghost over your head all the time. And since you'll learn more and more along the way, this will only squeeze your patience to the limit. Because you'd do all that past actions in a heartbeat after you get the knowledge, but getting there takes time: Trial and error rutine. Constantly.
It's a pity noone can take advantage of all this misery. Wait a second... wait a second... What If I DO HELP others to survive this process?
Exactly. Now you get why I'm wondering wether to do or not to do a personal-branded website to help new digital companies to start.
7. It doesn't feel like you're moving... at all:But you are.
Whenever you turn your sight backwards to take a look to the recent past, you see a whole different situation. It's like swiming through mud. Literally and graphically speaking.
On those times, it's important to connect with yourself and with others. In fact, it's necessary.
I deal with it going to the gym, and hanging out with my actual girlfriend. (What? I know I know. You're thinking: Where the hell did he manage to get time to meet anyone? I know!! Right? But yes, It happened. Get over it).
Personal celebrations, and also family meetings did their part.
I'm even thinking about moving out with my girlfriend. She's the best thing that happened to me in 2015. And she's been the best support I could ever ask. In every way.
So, ... I have to say that if you're alone, you may survive, but your mental health may not. I can't be sure. Whatever you do, try to get out regularly. Your business and your project won't fly away. GET TIME and invest in yourself.
8. It doesn't pay off. At leat not in the first year unless you're being funded:No. It doesn't.
It even feels like you've wasted a whole year. That's what the "universe" want you to think, so all quitters clear the path for the real entrepreneurs to stand up from the "wantrepreneurs".
I guess It will pay off in time. Maybe before 2020. I know one thing. I'll be right here.
9. People will try to take advantage of your situation:They know you'll lower your fees. They see you desperate. They are like vultures waiting for your fall to take you to their ground. STOP THAT!
I did it late, but I did it.
I did a few professional websites that could value more than 10x what I charged. I was craving for money to survive, to keep me alive on this project. I managed to get some licences for myself. But that's it.
I wasted a lot of time I should have been putting into MY PROJECT.
So if someone wants you to lower your fees. Say no. Stand your ground. Even if it meens to lose some extra bucks/euros.
This is the reality. It's a tough truth, but someone must tell you.
If you join a solopreneur project, I hope you are not the needy kind of person. This will crush your motivation, and your ego will fly out on holidays.
I hope I didn't discourage you (I'm lying).
This is not for everyone. This is a long, lonely run. But if you are still reading this after all those bullshit. Remember that the only important thing is yourself.
Never let anyone tell you what you can't do.
Acquiring grit is something made up by practicing it.
Let me know your experience below (comments area).
And above all this: Happy new year 2016!! (Unless you are reading this way way into the future, Marty McFly).